Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Microsoft release statement on massive worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack

Microsoft release statement on massive worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack

Well, you don't have to, but there is now no way to fix a computer that's infected by WannaCry. But the massive digital assault they launched late last week could end up costing the global economy billions. In March, Microsoft released a security update for supported operating systems which addresses the vulnerability that WannaCry exploits.

Though damaging, the WannaCry worm was not the worst that could have happened.

Companies needed to make sure they have updated their systems and "patched where they should" before staff arrived for work on Monday morning, the European Union law enforcement agency head said. WannaCry shut down ATM machines across China and crippled hospitals in Great Britain.

Michael Mitchell, spokesman for Oreo cookie maker Mondelez International, said the company is not aware of any incidents from the attack, though it did alert employees. "Many of those will be businesses including large corporations".

Blaming Microsoft for not providing free custom support to its customers who were using old Windows software that may have slowed down "WannaCrypt" attack, a media report has said the tech giant charged a fortune for the custom support for older versions, including Windows XP that was discontinued in 2014. The malware spreads through e-mail.

When it comes to current software, effective carrots and sticks are needed to persuade companies, governments and individuals to do what everyone knows needs to be done: Patch their computers when a flaw is discovered. It encrypts data on infected computers and demands payment before the information is unencrypted. It demands users pay United States dollars 300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time.

Infection attempts from the WannaCry ransomware. Some of these computers were used by Iranian hospitals.

"It's this constant battle", Ryan O'Leary, vice president of WhiteHat Security's threat research center, said. However, he said it's only a matter of time before a malevolent version exists.

Eight Aussie companies hit in global cyber attack
Among the largest organisations to have been hit so far are the UK's National Health Service and Spanish telco Telefónica. Microsoft said the situation was "painful" and that it was taking "all possible actions to protect our customers".

At a time when hyper-targeted phishing attacks and sophisticated government-sponsored assaults represent the cutting edge of the battle over cyber security, the spread of the WannaCry ransomware looks like a blast from the past.

MalwareTech, who wanted to remain anonymous, was hailed as an "accidental hero" after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.

Security researchers are still scrambling to learn more about how the malware operates, but it's understood that WannaCry exploits a vulnerability in older, outdated Windows systems including Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003.

Installing the Microsoft patch is one way to secure computers against the virus. A statement from the delivery company Friday said its Windows-based systems were "experiencing interference" due to malware and that it was trying to fix the issue as quickly as possible. With the Shadow Brokers' theft of the NSA's cyberweapons.

If infected, disconnect the computer from the network so that other computers are not infected. That may not be easy.

The railway said that there was no impact on actual train services.

To complicate matters further, criminals who use ransomware often ask to be paid in Bitcoin or other forms of cryptocurrencies so that payments by victims can not be traced by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Smith says there's a real risk that criminals will steal them.

Carmaker Renault said one of its French plants, which employs 3,500 people, wasn't reopening Monday as a "preventative step" while technicians deal with the aftermath of the attack.

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